Scheduled for full production by 2023, the MondialMoto V5R and V5S will emulate Honda's storied RC211V, which dominated MotoGP in the early noughties. It'll be the streetbike every Valentino Rossi fan was gagging for just before he left to join Yamaha.
The year was 2002. Motorcycle Grand Prix star Valentino Rossi was just beginning his meteoric rise to become one of those Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michel Schumacher-like figures that tower over their sports and whose influence and notoriety spills out into real life. The two-stroke 500cc GP era was coming to a close and the public was getting its first look at a new breed of 990cc, four-stroke monsters that would be much more like the superbikes in the shops. Would they be as fast as the featherweight two-smokers? Would they be as fun?
And what kind of engine was going to prevail? Would it be Yamaha's inline four M1? Aprilia's inline triple Cube? Suzuki's V4 GSV-R? No sir, it was Honda's extraordinary RC211V, running the first V5 engine most of the world had ever seen. Rossi beat his proud rival Max Biaggi over the head all season with this 260-hp (194-kW) monster. The V5 won every race but one, the Czech GP where Rossi was forced to retire.
Honda's legendary V5 remains to this day one of the most iconic engines in motorcycle racing. It won three world championship titles in the hands of Rossi and American Nicky Hayden, and four constructors' championships, in the five years before MotoGP went to a flaccid 800cc format in 2007. And the magazines and forums were alive for years afterwards with rumors of a production, 1,000cc V5 Honda making it into showrooms.
It never happened, of course. For all the wild fury the RC211V brought to the racetrack, Honda's production bikes receded into safe, boring mediocrity as the noughties progressed, leaving it to Aprilia to get the first fire-breathing V4 superbike onto the market and letting Italian and German companies get away with making the sharpest, most powerful and most exciting street supersports bikes.
All of which is a long-winded introduction to this week's news: MondialMoto has just announced it's going to have a crack at building a streetbike that can do the RC211V some kind of justice, complete with a V5 engine.
Not that Mondial, mind you. MondialMoto has no connection with storied Milanese factory F.B. Mondial. This new crew is located in the "Motor Valley" of Mondial, about two hours away from Milan. It's Italy's heartland for petrolheads, and home to the factories of Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati, among many others. MondialMoto will have the cream of the world's suppliers and production technologies at its fingertips.
And the team makes no bones about what it's attempting here.
"The only other manufacturer to produce a V5 dominated Moto GP for 5 Years," reads the company's website. "We at MondialMoto will follow that tradition with a V5 Moto GP bike for the street."
Like the RC211V, the MondialMoto V5 will be a 75.5-degree, four valve per cylinder V5 with three cylinders fore and two aft. DOHC camshafts will push titanium valves and it'll rev out to 13,250 RPM. There will be variable length intakes on the throttle bodies, and a slipper clutch to stop the rear wheel hopping on high-RPM downshifts.
The V5 will come in two flavors, a V5R and a V5S. The R will run a full carbon fiber frame, perhaps a monocoque, with an integrated airbox. The subframe, too, will be carbon, but the single-sided swingarm at the back will be alloy. You get carbon wheels, too. The S goes to aluminum for the one-piece frame and forged alloy wheels.
Both will run Ohlins suspension, with electronic forks and a steering damper, and radial Brembo brakes with monoblock calipers and ABS. Both will also feature carbon fiber bodywork and titanium race exhausts, and digital dashes, with modest five-lap timers. There'll be keyless remote ignition, plus built-in GPS satnav and "find my bike" capability if you forget where it's parked or it gets pinched.
The spec sheets also mention MQS, which we assume is an in-house MondialMoto quickshift setup, and MPC, which might be some sort of power/traction control, because no traction control is mentioned elsewhere and we can't really imagine these going out the factory door without it, given that we'd anticipate the bike making over 200 horsepower.
Despite all the carbon on the R, the spec sheets list both it and the S as 179-kg (395-lb) bikes. Who knows if that's dry weight, wet weight, curb weight or anywhere in between.
The design looks quite swoopy and Italian, a little like an engorged Panigale, with stacked headlights and a barely-there exhaust exiting near the rear wheel.
How much? Lots. The MondialMoto V5R costs €35,995 (US$41,500) resplendent in carbon, and the S model isn't a cheap bike either in the scheme of things, at €27,995 (US$32,300).
The company claims it's raised some €2.5 million (US$2.88 million) in capital, and is building a pair of prototypes. Reservations are available for both bikes, for a little less than half the total price, and full factory production is slated for 2023. There are a number of ways to give these guys money right now, including reserving factory tours for this forthcoming factory, or buying four-year mini-bonds to invest.
There are many obstacles and years between here and a production bike. But if these guys manage to drag this thing over the line, they'll have fulfilled the wishes of many an early-noughties MotoGP fan and brought a truly special bike into being.
We are hopeful and wish them the best in their efforts, despite the execrable, bordering on unforgivable promotional video they have elected to launch with, which is shown below. We sincerely hope their engineering prowess outweighs their marketing skills.
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